Artists Retiring Gracefully

by Jude Bohm-Parr
(Childers, Qld)

I write this in hindsight & in voluntary social isolation as a way of reaching out to fellow artists & perhaps offering a little advice for senior artists. In early 2019, I decided that my official working career as an artist had reached its feasible limits. This actually translates as being sick of spending $400 a year on an accountant to send in my tax return to ATO telling them I had made a loss – again this year, in the business. I have been retiring for the last 10 years since I relocated my business to Fishery Falls & then to Childers where we presently reside. Over that period, I had reduced my supply to galleries, conventions & architectural applications due to decreased mobility in my wrists & lower back pain. This limited my ability to do repetitive hand cutting, which is the basis of my work, & being able to move heavy shelves into the kiln. Also grinding for a long period was not feasible anymore.

So the first part of this journal is how to gracefully retire to become a hobbyist rather than operating a full blown artistic business. Obviously the reasons have to be compliant with your fiscal state, i.e. you can afford to retire & have sufficient means of other support, & secondly that you are actually ready to forgo all the hassles, forms, reports etc. of running a business.
There will be positives & negatives involved. On one hand you will not be able to claim expenses anymore, on the other, your art will cost less as you do not have to charge GST. The ATO sets out requirements; I will include a small section here, but go to ATO for further information.
Taking on a hobby can have the following key benefits:
• You can gain personal enjoyment and satisfaction from the activity.
• You can gift or sell your work for the cost of materials.
• You can do it in your own time or when people contact you.
• You have no reporting obligations of a business.
• Your annual income is less than $18,300
You’re in business if your activity, as a whole, is commercial with an aim to make a profit. Consider these key questions to determine if you run a business:
• Is the activity you undertake for commercial reasons?
• Is your main intention, purpose or prospect to make a profit?
• Do you regularly undertake your activity?
• Is your activity planned, organised and carried out in a businesslike manner?

Steps To Being a Hobbyist:
• Cancel your ABN; no more BAS to do!!! Forms online or ask your accountant
• Cancel your business name, as above
• Make sure your latest tax return is filed, hopefully at a loss & once again, consult your accountant as to the need for future tax returns. I do not have to put in anymore.
• Enjoy making what YOU want
• Start advertising via social media-Art in Tropical Qld, ETSY, Facebook

Being a hobbyist isn’t the end of the world… going off on a tangent, I always wondered what the end of the world would sound like. Not that we are there yet, but in dangerous waters. I envisioned chaos, loud noise, burning mayhem etc., etc. I am finding that it is silence that is most obvious. There is hardly any traffic on the Bruce Highway, which always was a background hum of vehicles. People talking in the streets of town are not there anymore. The only sounds now are a phone ringing or the ping of an Internet message. I don’t know how long humanity can survive without intimate contact, hugs, and kisses. So just sending out love & hope with social distancing of course, spread it around.

If nothing else, I hope I have given you something else to do & think about than watch the paint drying on the wall & the weeds growing! Love to hear how others are coping with the current situation, how businesses are faring, how you pass the time & your thoughts on where we will end up after this pandemic & change to social life as we knew it. Is there a future for artists & our creations as a non essential commodity, will we adapt to less personal contacts with clients? What can we do to help? Online free tuition? How will you market? Here I think we are blessed to have Jill & her network of contacts, over the net. It is like she has been practising for a few years to hone her skills for this new challenge. I and every other artist should be glad to have her at our back in these difficult times.

Personally, I am planting veges for winter, rearing chickens, making sour dough bread, crumpets, waffles & pancakes. Do things you have put off because you didn’t have time… Now you have plenty. Play with new designs, new directions, keep busy. Bye for now from Xanadoo & the mad zoo that lives here & keeps me sane!!Keep safe.

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Great Minds Think Alike!
by: Jill

Jude, many thanks for reaching out to others and for your kind comments re my part in all of this. My own retirement path followed pretty much the path that you describe.

I am in the throes of building a new page inviting artists (that's everyone!) to share some of the activities and experiments that they are enjoying in this rather weird period of isolation.

It will also link to new Facebook and Instagram pages for Port Douglas Artists.

Watch out for it - under the YOUR PAGES section in the nav bar.

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